10 Ways Public Education in Finland and Singapore Is Different Than in the U.S.

“Those Things You Learn Without Joy You Will Forget Easily.”*

Photo: The Atlantic, October 1, 2015.

1. In Finland, law mandates that for every 45 minutes of instruction, students get 15 minutes of play. U.S. kids get less than 30 minutes per day.

2. College is free in Finland — even master’s and doctoral programs.

3. Teachers are highly respected and are paid better in Finland and Singapore. School leadership includes teachers and staff in decision making and developing policy.

4. Teachers have more autonomy, spending less time in front of students and more time planning lessons, collaborating, and developing curriculum.

5. In Singapore, a senior teacher’s work week, documented by Stanford University’s Learning Policy Institute, included 12 hours of academic teaching, 5 hours of co-curricular or student assembly time, and 19 hours of professional planning and learning time.

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6. The Singaporean government pays for 100 hours of professional development for teachers every year.

7. The Finnish government sees daycare and preschool as a right of every child and subsidizes programs with college-educated staff. Children start primary school at 7.

8. Teacher training and induction in Finland requires a master’s degree and five or more years of training before leading a classroom.

9. High school seniors take Finland’s one mandated standardized test.

10. Charging a fee for a compulsory education is against the law in Finland, thus no private schools or universities. There is a focus on equity in, and equality of, schools.

*Arja-Sisko Holappa, a counselor for the Finnish National Board of Education, The Atlantic, Oct. 1, 2015